By Alan Ayckbourn

(Sitting) Thanks. Sorry, only the man over there won’t stop talking. I wanted to read this in peace. I couldn’t concentrate. He just kept going on and on about his collections or something. I normally don’t mind too much, only if you get a letter like this, you need all your concentration. You can’t have people talking in your ear – especially when you’re trying to decipher writing like this. He must have been stoned out of his mind when he wrote it. It wouldn’t be unusual. Look at it. He wants me to come back. Some hopes. To him. He’s sorry, he didn’t mean to do what he did, he won’t do it again I promise, etc., etc. I seem to have heard that before. It’s not the first time, I can tell you. And there’s no excuse for it, is there? Violence, I mean, what am I supposed to do? Keep going back to that? Every time he loses his temper he ... I mean, there’s no excuse. A fracture, you know. It was nearly a compound fracture. That’s what they told me. (Indicating her head.) Right here. You can practically see it to this day. Two X-rays. I said to him when I get home, I said, “You bastard, you know what you did to my head?” He just stands there. The way he does. “Sorry,” he says, “I’m ever so sorry.” I told him. I said, “You’re a bastard, that’s what you are. A right, uncontrolled, violent, bad-tempered bastard.” You know what he said? He says, “You call me a bastard again and I’ll smash your stupid face in.” That’s what he says. I mean, you can’t have a rational, civilized discussion with a man like that, can you? He’s a right bastard. My friend Jenny, she says, “You’re loony, leave him for God’s sake. You’re loony.” Who needs that? You tell me one person who needs that? Only where do you go? I mean, there’s all my things – my personal things. All my – everything. He’s even got my bloody Post Office book. I’ll finish up back there, you wait and see. I must be out of my mind. Eh. Sometimes I just want to jump down a deep hole and forget it. Only I know that bastard’ll be waiting at the bottom. Waiting to thump the life out of me. Eh?

Waking Up

By Dario Fo

“Listen, Stupid,” I tell him, “I don’t need to listen to feminists or radicals or anyone else to find out what a shitty life we lead. We both work like dogs and we never have a minute to talk. We never talk to each other! Is that marriage? Like does it ever even enter your mind to think about what’s going on inside me? How I feel? Ever ask me if I’m tired ... if you could give me a hand? Ha!”

“Who does the cooking? Me. Who does the washing up? Me. Who does the shopping? Me. And who does the death-defying financial acrobatics so we can get through to the end of the month? Me, me, me! And I’m working full time at the factory, remember. Your dirty socks ... who washes them, eh? How many times have you washed my socks? We should talk to each other, Luigi. We never talk. I mean, its okay with me that your problems are my problems but why can’t my problems be your problems too, instead of yours being ours and mine only being mine. I just want us to live together ... not just in the same place. We should talk to each other. But what do we do? You come home from work, watch the telly and go to bed. Day after day it’s the same. Oh, except for Sundays.”

“Hooray, hooray it’s football day. Every Sunday off you go to watch twenty-two idiots in their underpants kicking a ball around and some other mentally deficient maniac dashing up and down, blowing a whistle!” He ... that Luigi ... he went purple in the face! You’d think I’d insulted his mother. “How could a person like you ever know the first thing about sport?”

Not the best thing he could’ve said, really.

I freaked. “Who the fuck would want to?” I shouted at him. And then I really started raving on like a lunatic. Oh I said it all. Everything. I screamed at him, he yelled back at me, I screamed louder, he yelled louder ... we were just shouting the building down. So finally I said, “Right. If this is marriage we’ve made a mistake!” And I picked up my mistake and I walked out.

In Flame

By Charlotte Jones

The nursing home.

Here we are then, Mother.
Nothing to hold you back now. And I’ve brought you another treat. Raspberry Royal. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it? They had Sherry Trifle too but you turned your nose up at that last time. Ah. We’re going for the silent treatment, are we?
Well. It’s my birthday today. I didn’t get your card. Second post, maybe. Thirty-six today. I don’t look it? Thank you very much. I use extremely expensive eye cream. Guaranteed to cover that “not-quite-as-fertile-as-I-used-to-be look” that’s creeping up under my eyes. Anyway, I’m meeting Matt later. Did I tell you about him? I don’t think you’d approve. He’s an acquired taste. And he’s married. I fell right into that cliché. Very good in bed, though. We get up to all sorts. Your mind, if you had one, would boggle. He never holds my feet though.

Come on, tuck in. Can’t let a good Raspberry Royale go to waste. Raspberries fit for a queen. Come on. You don’t have to watch your figure any more. Open wide and let the choo-choo train in.
Eat up, Mother. It’s a treat. Come on.

Oh dear, it’s all down your front, Mother. You look aright old mess, don’t you?

You’re very quiet today. Now you haven’t got your audience ... But I can see you’re thinking. It’s all going on in there, isn’t it? Pickfords must have been, Mother. The careful movers. Packed you away with the crocks and the glassware. Slugs leave trails, you see.

Alex comes right up close to her.

I was a little girl. You were the one who turned it into a competition. I was just a little girl. Sweetness and light, my arse. You play dirty, don’t you, Anne?
Well it doesn’t matter. He’s dead now. My dad’s dead. I still dream about him, though. It’s a reoccurring dream. We’re at Weston-super-Mare and we’re burying you in the sand. And we just leave you. We run off together and have ice cream. Neopolitan flavour, because I can never choose. And I wake up and I feel safe and then I realise that we’ve forgotten you, you’re still buried in the sand and I feel guilty for the rest of the day ...

What’s so ironic, what you don’t realise, Ma, is I still want to help you. I’m here with my spade. And I’m ready to dig ...

But you’re not interested, are you? ...

Just answer me one thing, Mother, why does it feel like a punishment? You being ill, and helpless. Tell me what I’ve done. Come on.

Well, you win.

Alex leaves.

The Real Queen of Hearts ain’t even that pretty

The Real Queen of Hearts ain’t even that pretty
by Brad Bailey

When I was thirteen years old I was fat.  I was really fat.  And I was proper depressed, because I was fat and then all my fish died.  So I decided to kill myself.  I didn’t have any poison and I couldn’t cut my wrists because the blood makes me sick to my stomach.  So I decided to hang myself.  I got the garden hose, I mean a heavy duty garden hose and took it down to the barn and found a rafter, and I made a noose and everything.  I climbed up on a bale of hay and put my head in the noose – and I told God there was no way he could blame me for doing this.  NO WAY!  I told him it was his fault cos he made me fat.  He did it and he should be man enough to take the blame for it.  And then I got scared and I told him I was just kidding.  And then I jumped...and the fucking rafter broke!  I was so fat the rafter just broke to pieces and I fell slap on the floor with the noose still round my neck.  And that’s when my mother walks in and finds me lying there with hay up my nose.  She nearly had a heart attack.  Screaming, crying and hitting me with the weed whacker.  She told me suicide was against the law and if I did kill myself she’d have me put away for life, it was pretty grim – I mean that was a big rafter.  

Last Easter

Last Easter
by Bryony Lavery

Fucking Dead Loss Boyfriend Howie
continued to be dead.
The second year of anybody’s death
is like . . .
okay, the joke’s over
give me a ring
drop by
run into me in fucking Covent Garden
Alright, we’ve had all the Drama
The Funeral the Ash-Scattering . . .
Now, come round let’s go out for a
I’ve so much to tell you . . .
Your funeral for one . . .
You’ll never guess who turned up!
That choreographer bitch from Chester
you said you never slept with!
Pinned her in a corner, your dad’s
best malt.
Well . . . Who’s a liar?
Chester.  Derby.  And Liverpool!
And after all the fucking whining
me and that Holby City
lighting cameraman!

But a nano-second after the thought
comes the other thought . . .

oh yes
. . . you took that big pile of pills!
Mr Fucking History!

I wake up

I think where are you

Then I remember
oh yes

God, I hate fucking Dead People!
June, you have to fucking promise
not to come back and fucking haunt me . . .

(Added on to the end:
ever since that Shiatzu guru
aligned my charkas absolutely so
why’s Howie still hanging around?
I mean, shouldn’t he be a lotus tree
or a tree frog
that bird or something by now?


I wake up

I think where is he

Then I remember
oh yes

God, I hate fucking Dead People!
June, you have to fucking promise
not to come back and fucking haunt me . . .

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